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Courtesy: Monmouth University Photo

MEN'S SOCCER OPENS MAAC CHAMPIONSHIPS AT SIENA SATURDAY

Courtesy: Monmouth Sports Information
         
Release: November 04, 2016
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MONMOUTH MEN’S SOCCER PREVIEW
Saturday, November 5, 2016
MAAC Championship Quarterfinals
No. 6 Monmouth (6-9-2, 5-5-0 MAAC) at No. 3 Siena (8-8-3, 6-3-1 MAAC)
All-Time Series: MU, 3-1-1 (Last meeting: Siena, 2-1 – Oct. 12, 2016)
Location: Siena Turf Field – Loudonville, NY
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Live Video: MAAC.tv
Live Stats: SienaSaints.com

The Monmouth University men’s soccer team opens MAAC Championship play in the quarterfinals Saturday at third-seeded Siena. The Hawks won their last game of the season, 3-2, over fourth-seeded Marist this past Saturday to punch their ticket to the tournament. Meanwhile, the Saints fell to the same Red Foxes, 2-1, on Wednesday. 

BREAKING DOWN THE SIENA SAINTS
Siena is led by Junior Rosero and Alexander Tejera, both of whom have scored six goals. Rosero has added three assists, while Tejera has dished out two. Conor McGlynn has distributed a team-best eight assists, while J.C. Obregon has added four goals and three assists. Milorad Sobot and Matt Crisafulli have scored three goals apiece, while Uros Antic and David Itoafa also offer scoring punch with a goal and three assists each. Aleksa Radosavljevic has played all but one contest in net for siena, posting a 1.46 goals-against average and a .728 save percentage.  

ALL-TIME SERIES VS. SIENA
Monmouth owns a 3-1-1 lead in the all-time series with Siena with all five games being played in the last four seasons after the Hawks joined the MAAC. Monmouth took a 2-1 victory in West Long Branch on Oct. 12, 2013, before the two teams played to a 1-1 tie in Loudonville to begin the season series in 2014. In a rematch a week later at Hesse Field in the MAAC Championship Quarterfinals, the Hawks cruised to a 3-0 victory en route to their first MAAC Championship and their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in nine years. Monmouth then took a 2-0 win on Oct. 3, 2015, on Hesse Field, before the Saints got in the win column this past Oct. 12 in Loudonville with a 2-1 victory. 

MONMOUTH IN THE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
The Hawks are 17-10-4 all-time in conference tournaments, including six conference tournament championships (1990, 2006, 2009-11, 2014). Monmouth will make its 19th conference tournament appearance, including 12 straight under Head Coach Robert McCourt, dating back to his second season (2005). 

SENIOR MOMENTS
Senior forward David Nigro assisted on all three goals in the Hawks’ 3-2 win over Marist on Senior Night, Oct. 29. Nigro is the first Hawk to compile three assists in a game since Ryan Clark on Sept. 30, 2011, against LIU Brooklyn. With eight assists and 18 points, Nigro joins some elite company among Monmouth greats. The eight assists are the most in the last 10 years, tying Ryan Clark (2011) and RJ Allen (2009). The last time a Hawk distributed more assists came in 2006, when Tom Gray finished with 14 assists. Nigro’s 18 points are the most by a Monmouth player since Ryan Kinne racked up 30 points in 2010.  

FRESHMAN FINISHES
Freshman forward Geoffrey Schaefer scored the first two goals of his collegiate career, including the game-winner, in the Hawks’ 3-2 win over Marist on Oct. 29. Schaefer’s two-goal game was the first by a Monmouth freshman since Kalle Sotka scored twice in the 2011 Northeast Conference Championship Game against Fairleigh Dickinson on Nov. 13, 2011.  

SENIOR SENDOFF
Prior to the Oct. 29 contest vs. Marist, the Hawks honored their seven-member senior class. Over the last four years, the Monmouth men’s soccer team has won 38 games, two MAAC Regular Season Championships and the 2014 MAAC Tournament Championship to advance to the NCAA Tournament. The team has earned a national ranking in all four years, defeated the likes of Rutgers, Seton Hall and Villanova, and opened this season with a tie against Denver, which is currently ranked No. 6 in the country. The senior class is comprised of Miguel Alves, Wilson Bonilla, Eric Klenofsky, Brandon McCarthy, Zack Neugebauer, David Nigro and Colin Stripling.    

KLENOFSKY CLIMBING MAAC ALL-TIME WINS LEADERBOARD
With the Hawks’ 2-1 win in double overtime at Manhattan on Oct. 21, 2015, goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky moved into sole possession of second place all-time in the MAAC with 28 career victories in net. Klenofsky, who now stands at 36 career wins, moved past Niagara’s John Fiutowski (2006-09) and only Iona’s Nils Binstock (2006-09) remains ahead of the Hawks’ senior goalkeeper with 38 career wins. 

KEEPER CONTRIBUTIONS
Senior goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky has made his mark on the Hawks’ program over the past four years and his absence due to injury for six non-league games covering a month, and subsequently one league game, was felt. Since arriving on campus, the Hawks have posted a 36-13-15 record in games started by Klenofsky. In games started by anyone else, Monmouth is 2-10-3. Klenofsky returned to the line-up on Sept. 27 vs. Manhattan, before missing an additional league game on Oct. 15 at Quinnipiac. 

BLALOCK BIG IN WIN OVER FAIRFIELD
Jalil Blalock figured in both of the Hawks’ goals in a 2-0 win over Fairfield on Oct. 19. The sophomore forward banked in the game-winning goal off the right post in the 25th minute, before helping the Hawks gain some insurance in the 49th minute, playing a give-and-go off a short corner with Michael Luke. The goal was his second of the year and the fourth of his career. The assist was his first as a Hawk.     

NIGRO EQUALS CAREER HIGH
Senior forward David Nigro scored his fifth goal of the season on Oct. 15 at Quinnipiac, equaling his total from both 2014 and 2015. Together with three goals as a freshman in 2013, he upped his career total to 18.  

PEREIRA POKES IT IN
Sophomore back Zachary Pereira scored his first goal of the year, Oct. 12 at Siena. The goal, poked in off the rebound of a Miguel Alves free kick, equalized the contest. Pereira scored four times as a freshman in 2015. 

REELING IN THE RECOGNITION
Eric Klenofsky and David Nigro were named MAAC Defensive and Offensive Players of the Week, respectively, on Oct. 10. Klenofsky and the Hawks’ defense posted a pair of clean sheets and Nigro had a goal and an assist in a pair of 1-0 victories over Rider and Niagara to push Monmouth to the top of the league standings. The honors were the second of the year for both student-athletes, with Klenofsky earning the recognition for the 11th time in his career and Nigro taking his second award.

PULLING RANK
With their 1-0 win over then-No. 30 Rider on Oct. 5, the Hawks are 1-0-1 against ranked teams this season. Monmouth also played then-No. 15 Denver to a 1-1 draw in the season opener on Aug. 26.  

FIGARELLA’S FOE
Sophomore back Daniel Figarella scored his fourth career goal for the game-winner against Rider on Oct. 5. Three of Figarella’s four goals have come against the Broncs, with the third being the charm. The Hawks played Rider to a 1-1 draw last regular season in Lawrenceville, before falling, 3-2, in the MAAC Championship Game at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

STRIP SCORES TWO
Colin Stripling scored both goals in the Hawks’ 2-0 conference-opening win over Manhattan on Sept. 27. The senior midfielder streaked in for the rebound of a saved penalty kick in the 6th minute before finishing a David Nigro feed from the top of the 18-yard box in the 29th minute for what proved to be the game winner. 

FAMILY MATTERS
Michael Luke scored his first career goal for the game winner at Howard on Sept. 17. Luke followed in his brother, Derek’s, footsteps, as the elder Luke’s first career goal also came as a game-winner in a 1-0 victory (Sept. 22, 2011 at Columbia) early in his freshman year. 

NIGRO’S NIGHT
David Nigro matched his career-best of five points in a single game on Sept. 14 vs. Columbia. The senior forward scored twice and added an assist, matching his output vs. UMass Lowell in the 2014 season opener. 

AREMAN ARRIVES
Junior midfielder Jake Areman, a Maryland transfer, scored his first goal as a Hawk and added an assist against Columbia on Sept. 14. The three-point output matched Areman’s one-goal, one-assist effort for the Terps last season in a victory over St. John’s. 

SCHAEFER SHOWING UP
Freshman Geoffrey Schaefer responded well to increased playing time, developing several offensive chances and assisting on David Nigro’s goal at UMBC on Sept. 10 for his first collegiate point.

FLIPPING IT IN
Sophomore forward Jalil Blalock, whose signature goal celebration is a back flip, scored his first goal of the season on Sept. 1 at Hartford. Blalock received a feed from Dave Nigro in the middle of the 18-yard box and went inside the right post for the score, his third-career goal.  

CONTINUING TREND
Colin Stripling led the Hawks with six goals a year ago and began this season in the same way. The senior midfielder deposited the ball in the back of the net on a penalty kick in the 37th minute against Denver as the Hawks and Pioneers played to a 1-1 draw. He then added his second goal at UMBC, equalizing at 2-2 in the 54th minute.

RUBBING ELBOWS WITH THE NATION’S BEST
A fixture in the national polls over the last several years, the Hawks were ranked No. 30 in the College Soccer News Preseason Top 30 to earn a national ranking for the 11th straight season. The Hawks also received votes in the poll’s second week. Monmouth reached a program-high of the No. 4 ranking in 2010.

PRESEASON RESPECT
Winners of two of the last three MAAC Regular Season Championships, Monmouth was selected by the league’s coaches to win the title once again in 2016. In addition, five Hawks comprised the 11-member Preseason All-MAAC Team. Goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky was named the Preseason Player of the Year, while Anderson Asiedu, David Nigro, Zachary Pereira and Colin Stripling were also named among the top players in the league.     

RETURN OF THE MAC
Sophomore Anderson Asiedu was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, becoming the first sophomore and the 10th Hawk in Head Coach Robert McCourt’s tenure to garner the honor. Asiedu joined Joseph Schmid (2013), Ryan Clark (2012), RJ Allen (2011), Max Hamilton (2011), Anthony Vazquez (2011), Ryan Kinne (2009, 2010), Bryan Meredith (2010), Chase Barbieri (2009) and Tom Gray (2007) among Monmouth players to earn the recognition.

THE GOLD STANDARD
Monmouth Head Coach Robert McCourt’s teams have won nine conference regular season titles in his 12 years directing the program. Included in the Hawks’ run of success are five conference tournament championships in the last 10 years and the accompanying NCAA Tournament berths.

RETURNING CAST
Monmouth returns the scorers of 30 of their 41 goals from a year ago, led by leading scorer Colin Stripling (6). Stripling also had five assists to lead the team with 17 points. David Nigro and Miguel Alves also scored five goals apiece, while Zachary Pereira came on strong to score four goals from the back line. Danny Figarella and Andrew Gee chipped in with three goals each, while Anderson Asiedu and Jalil Blalock scored twice each. Along with Pereira, center back Joey Gudzak helped stabilize the Hawks’ back line and 2015 MAAC Goalkeeper of the Year Eric Klenofsky is back for his fourth season as the last line of defense. 

WELCOME TO THE SQUAD
Monmouth’s newcomers include some exciting prospects, including Maryland transfer Jake Areman and 2015 Gatorade New Jersey Boys Soccer Player of the Year John Antunes. The back line lost Derek Luke, but brings a familiar look in Luke’s brother, Michael, who will fill Derek’s role. Fellow freshman Andy Martinez also looks to fill a pivotal role as a center back. Jacob Curtis, Colin Muller, Geoffrey Schaefer and Ryan Wells will also vie for minutes in their first year in the Blue & White.
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